When I woke again the Well was silent. Only Jerem Cozak stood above me, in white armor. All the Never-born had gone.
“Marcus,” I said, my voice breaking. I remembered Cratyus and Meno, and the mauled man in the caldera, and all the dead we’d left behind. My blood on the floor had become a lake in which all the Well would drown.
He made no expression. “Marcus accomplished the task that was given him.” He nodded and said, “The Never-born are claiming the Wells of Artillery, so that none will need to do your trick again. But the White Swarm thanks you. I thank you. We could not have succeeded in any other way.”
The world slid once more into blackness. When I woke again, the Well was empty but for the still and silent bodies flung across its bloody floor. It sentience did not answer me. The diffuse light within was fading. Jerem Cozak had gone.
He had left me alone to die.